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MSL needs time, support

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There will be teething problems in the first year, Time will tell where it will go, the amount of money that comes into the tournament

Superstar AB de Villiers wants the Mzansi Super League to grow, but cautioned that it will take some time to find its feet. Picture: BackpagePix

Mark Boucher and AB de Villiers have cautioned against making hasty judgements about the Mzansi Super League, with both saying South Africa’s new T20 competition needed thoughtful backing from Cricket SA and larger number of foreign stars.

“This year will give us a feel for where it is going to go,” said De Villiers. “I think it’s going to get better every year. That is similar to the IPL. The start was a bit shaky, people didn’t know if it would last three years, five years but once they found their feet, got the right model the right amount of people into support the cricket … everyone will see it makes great sense to have a tournament like that in our country.”

It has been a shaky start for the League, which in a previous guise with more players and teams had to be postponed because Cricket SA couldn’t find broadcast or commercial partners.

The federation has had dole out more cash this year to get the event up and running, negotiating a TV deal with the SABC that apparently does not include any money from the public broadcaster. The League is also still without a headline sponsor, three weeks before the first ball is due to be bowled.

Boucher, who played in the first three years of the IPL highlighted the importance of a long term plan. “There will be teething problems in the first year, Time will tell where it will go, the amount of money that comes into the tournament … the reason the IPL is so successful, let’s be honest, is because the finance is so good.

“(It’s) up to the tournament directors to make it work and to have some foresight into where they want this tournament to go,” Boucher added.

The Mzansi Super League is dotted with international names, but not of the household, superstar variety and Boucher and De Villiers stressed it was important to obtain some of the bigger name Indian players to really help the event to take off.

“It will be nice in years to come to get some Indian players in this tournament, especially guys who are freshly retired,” said De Villiers.

The Mzansi Super League is scheduled to start on November 16 at Newlands with a match between the Tshwane Spartans, who De Villiers will captain and Boucher will coach, and the Cape Town Blitz.

Tickets for the tournament went on sale yesterday for R50.